The dirty little secret of title competitions is that the judges always come in with a bias. Always. The sign of a good competition is how much these biases are quashed in favour of a more uniform criteria, but for the most part, judges don’t always pick the winner based on who deserves it more or who can do the most with the title; they pick whichever one fits their mould the best. We see this, for better and for worse, in tonight’s finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race. For the last time this season, let’s take a look at the shit that werked and the shit that shat.
The final three wander into the workroom after Shannel’s dismissal, and as Bebe so astutely points out, the competition is going to boil down to what the judges like more: Will it be the edgy, gender-fuck punk queen? Will it be the glamorous globe-trotting girl? Or will it be Lady Beige Face, the one who should stick to flats? Good on Bebe for pretending she’s still a threat at this point, but Rebecca has all but jumped into the cannon with “FODDER” written across her forehead.
Bebe might be biting her tongue, but that doesn’t mean anyone else has to. Tonight’s challenge is going to involve the girls rapping and dancing in the video for RuPaul’s Covergirl, and while Rebecca may have snowed the judges, a fresh crop of put-upon handlers won’t be quite as dazzled by her pretty, featureless face. When Ryan Heffington steps in to teach the choreography, Nina Flowers and Bebe rise to the occasion while Rebecca stands bow-legged and wall-eyed. Heffington and his creepy mustache are not amused.
As they step into the recording studio to lay down their raps, Rebecca once again turns up empty-handed. The poor bitch just barely fumbles her way through her speed-rap, and temporary mentor Cazwell can do nothing but point out that she has only half the required verse. When Rebecca finally lumbers out of the room, Cazwell can’t even pretend that she has anything to show for their efforts.
It may seem like I’m just shitting on Rebecca, but that’s because I am. It’s one thing to do your best and fail; it’s another thing entirely to pull a no-show in front of the head judge. When it’s time for the girls to step up to the green screen for their video shoot, Nina and Bebe set the bar high with creative and well-executed looks and energetic performances. But most importantly, they show up on time.
Rebecca, on the other hand, shows up late with unfinished hair and makeup. Even after taking a reprieve to put herself together, her hairline is still visible, her words aren’t memorized, and she has a terrible case of T-rex arms. Even as Mike Ruiz screams, “FUN! FUN! YOU’RE AT A PARTY! YOU ARE A PARTY! FUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!!!” all she can do is awkwardly shuffle from foot to foot like a kid who needs to make a pee-pee.
Ignoring for a second Lady Beige Face’s incompetence, we get a lovely look at Nina and Bebe’s friendship as they prepare for the final runway. Nina and Bebe know it’s down to the two of them, but they can at least put the competition aside, if only for a little bit, to have one last moment with one another . . . at least until they try to include Rebecca, who shuts them down and kills the moment dead. Once again, Rebecca ruins everything. Anyway, ON TO THE RUNWAY!
Bebe walks the final catwalk in a gorgeous blue-and-red sequined gown, and the judges can’t help but gush over her performance. The rap is great, her physicality in the video is perfect, and they’re absolutely floored by her grace and poise. Nina’s rap isn’t as well received, but her dancing is the best of the lot, and her final look, a corseted purple jumpsuit with a train attached to the side seam, is genius.
It’s not often that Ru makes a mistake on the show, but when she does, she knows how to course-correct. When Rebecca takes to the stage for the final time and Ru sees her performance, she’s forced to come to grips with her error: Rebecca snowed her, and now Ru is out for blood. The judges absolutely crucify Lady Beige Face over her lack of professionalism, and Rebecca only digs the hole deeper by taking jabs at her fellow competitors. Also of note: she wore the same dress two days in a row.
Let’s get one thing straight: Rebecca Glasscock had no business in the top three. But it’s all worth it for this moment:
HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! With Rebecca thrown into the pit of obscurity, it’s time for Bebe and Nina to lip-sync for their lives one last time. Covergirl cues up, and the two put on one of the best shows in Drag Race history, dipping and turning and spinning and bopping and twisting and pulling and passing. You can tell they’re both trying to win on their own merits rather than outshining each other, and they end up working together more than they work against each other.
This friendship stays strong to the very end, when Bebe is named the winner, and Nina is only too happy for her. There’s no bitterness or passive aggression in their happiness for each other, either; Nina is legitimately happy for Bebe and can walk out with her head held high. It’s a sweet moment in what was otherwise a rather tense competition.
So there we have it. Bebe is our first-ever winner. Who deserved it more or who ended up doing more with their newfound fame is up for debate, but that’s how it goes: Bebe played to what Ru was asking for, and when that’s the criteria of the competition, then yes, Bebe earned her win.